It’s been a while since I interviewed for a job, but I’ve had a bunch of conversations about interviewing since then. And some of the biggest challenges I see folks facing have to do with understanding the team and the processes they use to work towards their goals. Here are some questions you can ask during your interview to help get those answers ahead of time.
There’s a difference between remote and async, but what is it? Remote means you’re not in the same space together, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations that mimic being in the physical space. Some companies try to replicate the in-person experience by having clear work hours, daily meetings, and even virtual spaces for water cooler chat. Other companies embrace a flexible schedule, focus on async check-ins as opposed to meetings, have clear documentation and workflows, and don’t lean into immediate responses to communication efforts. Maybe add on to this question with: How do you feel about the concept ‘this meeting should have been an email”?
If you’re like me, you have systems that don’t work for you and maybe some systems that do. A lot of time, my success depends on having clear paths of communication and documentation for how to do things. If there’s not a system in place, think about how that will impact your productivity.
This will be different for everyone, so I suggest writing down what’s important to you. Do you need to have clearly defined roles or are you excited to carve out roles as the team comes together? Are there things you need to have (a company-issued computer, for example) before you begin onboarding? Will there be documentation to support your onboarding? Will you have the opportunity to meet your team as a part of this process?
This is one that you don’t want to unexpectedly find yourself falling into. If there’s a quarterly team-building week, that might not work with your life. If there’s required attendance at a number of conferences to represent your company and you love conferences, this might be a bonus. Maybe they’re flexible either way, but you want it in your contract that you won’t travel. This can be an opportunity to negotiate that detail.
I like this question because it gives a sense of how the team communicates with each other. I’d dive a little deeper into the answer and ask how they came to take this approach. Everyone wants something different from the team experience, so this is one more way to evaluate if this experience is inline with what you’re hoping to have.
Bonus Question: How do you feel about kids coming in during virtual meetings?
This one definitely isn’t for everyone. This is a big one for me. My kids are off in the summers, and they will inevitably come into my workspace during that time. Sometimes they have a question; sometimes they want to say hi to the people on the screen. It is important to me that this is acceptable. If it’s not, that’s not the team for me.
There are a lot of questions you can ask, but asking things that help you understand the dynamics of the remote team can help you to see if your work values align with the team’s. The more I have conversations about jobs, the more I realize that the most important questions to me aren’t about the tech stack and not even so much about the type of work; they’re about the people, how they work together, and the team values.